La Plagne’s Olympic bobsleigh track is the only one in France and it hides some guys with unequalled experience. Although they are not often seen, they are the ones that make the bobsleigh experience possible. We met one of these “people of the shadows”, David, ice specialist.
David started working at the track in La Plagne 18 years ago, so he has quite some experience working on the ice. If you’re looking for him, he’s on bend n°10, where the speed hits its peak in the descent. Through planing, watering and matchone (a mix of ice and water used to fill holes), the 19 bends are maintained with great precision, which is what he likes:
“working hard for a result that is very precise, being part of a team that works in the cold and the shadows… if people don’t notice us, it means everything is ok”.
There is no school for ice specialists, nor tutorials on internet; everything is passed down from one person to the next and, if physical condition is important, team spirit is invaluable. There are only about 200 ice specialists in the world, and few have David’s international experience. He went to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics there, then to Sochi and to PyeongChang two years ago for the Olympic homologation along with the whole team from La Plagne. Every country has its own techniques and every track requires an almost emotional attention, but David thinks that La Plagne’s track is unequalled. Particularly technical, the 1.5km ice snake is tamed every winter for athletes and tourists.
And, since David is a real diehard, when he goes to Les Landes in the summer… he sells ice creams!